A decile one kura kaupapa Māori, Te Rangi Aniwaniwa in Kaitaia, has the best scholarship achievement rate in the country, RNZ analysis shows.
Two of the school's four Year 13 students got three scholarships last year, giving it a ratio of one scholarship for every 1.33 Year 13s.
RNZ's calculations indicated only Auckland private school St Cuthberts College and single-sex state school Wellington College came close to that figure, with ratios of about one scholarship pass for every 1.9 students in Year 13.
The kura's tumuaki, Te Irirangi Tawhara, was initially surprised to hear the kura was sitting alongside high-decile and private schools, but said it made sense given the work teachers and students put in.
"When you look at it in the bigger picture and the amount of effort and time we've put into our tamariki, yeah it's not too much of a surprise they are doing well," she said.
Ms Tawhara said the passes were in Te Reo Māori and Te Reo Rangatira, but even though the students spoke te reo Māori, they still had to work hard to get scholarship passes.
She said it was important for children in a decile one community to do well.
"A lot of our tamariki have barriers and challenges even before they step inside our doors," she said.
"When you have our tamariki achieving well within our kura and they step out into the community, they're role models and examples of tino rangatiratanga and mana motuhake - displaying excellence and having their own independence."
School decile no barrier to achievement
Two other small decile one kura, Te Kura Kokiri in Tauranga and Hastings' Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngati Kahungunu ki Heretaunga also had excellent results with one scholarship for every two or three Year 13s.
Meanwhile decile four Mt Roskill Grammar School got the most scholarships of any school in deciles 1-5 with 47 scholarships and three outstanding scholarships.
Its principal, Greg Watson, said the school emphasised scholarship and usually got between 40 and 64 passes each year.
"We see it as an opportunity for them to demonstrate their capabilities as the top end," he said.
Mr Watson said school decile was not a barrier to achievement.
"Decile labelling is to do with socio-economic factors, not to do with capability, not to do with kids' aspirations or resourcefulness, so it's just as important for our students as for any students to show what they can do."
RNZ's analysis shows four schools have got the most scholarships in each of the past four years.
They were Wellington College, Auckland Grammar, Westlake Boys High School and Macleans College.